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Philippines confirms murder of Canadian hostage by militant group

The government of the Philippines has confirmed that Robert Hall is dead. The Canadian was captured along with several others by a militant Islamist organization almost a year ago.

President Benigno Aquino confirmed on Tuesday that Hall had been beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants, who captured him and held him hostage before executing him.

"We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall, a Canadian national, after being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu for the past nine months," Aquino said in a statement.

Hall had been aboard a yacht at a tourist resort in September 2015 when members of Abu Sayyaf, which has been deemed a terrorist organization by Canada, the US and the UN, abducted him and three other people. Among the other captives were a Norwegian, a Filipino and another Canadian, John Ridsdel, who was beheaded back in April.

Deadly terrorist group

Efforts by the Filipino government to defeat the terrorist group have proved futile, and on Monday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that authorities had "reason to believe" that Hall had been killed. Trudeau had refused to pay the 300 million Philippine peso ($6.5 million, 5.8 million euro) ransom demanded by the group.

Though relatively small in terms of number of followers, Abu Sayyaf has developed a reputation as one of the most dangerous militant groups in the country ever since it emerged in the 1990s during a Muslim separatist movement.

The group has carried out kidnappings in the past, including that of a German couple, for whom it received a ransom of $5 million.

blc/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP)